2 House members clash with senators

A party-list representative sought to slash the budget of the Senate since senators “do not have a constituency” in an incendiary move following Senator Panfilo Lacson’s disclosure that 22 deputy speakers of the House will get an additional P1.5 billion each under next year’s proposed budget.

“Besides from demanding an apology from the Honorable Lacson, would you also advocate taking out a budget from the Senate, no initiative coming from them, since they do not have a constituency anyway?” Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor told Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro Castro on Wednesday.

The party-list lawmaker also chided the Senate, which he described as an institution that “cannot discipline a member amongst their ranks,” and demanded an apology from the entire Upper House.

Defensor’s statement drew sharp rebuke from Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

“He (Defensor) can dream on. It takes years to consistently study and learn how the national budget works. If he will start doing it only now, his term will outlive his learning curve,” Lacson said.

“I dare him [Defensor] to try,” Sotto said.

Castro earlier demanded an apology from Lacson for his alleged reckless and irresponsible accusation on the passage of the proposed P4.1-trillion national government budget for 2020, saying the senator’s statement tarnished the image of the House of Representatives.

Castro said Lacson as a gentleman and former chief of the Philippine National Police should be responsible enough to admit his mistake.

“Perhaps Senator Lacson could extend a sincere apology to this institution and to all the members of this House of Representatives,” Castro said.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading two resolutions extending the validity of this year’s national budget until December 2020.

The chamber approved the resolutions the same day the House Committee on Appropriations, led by Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, adopted Joint Resolutions 9 and 10 filed by Reps. Loren Legarda of Antique and Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan City, respectively. The two resolutions propose to extend the life of this year’s national budget.

The two joint resolutions seek to amend Section 65 of the General provisions of Republic Act 11260, otherwise known as the GAA of Fiscal Year 2019, which provides that all appropriations shall be available for release and obligation until Dec. 31, 2019.

This developed as House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said the resolutions’ approval at the chamber was a welcome development as it would ensure the continuity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s priority projects.

Romualdez, the chairman of the House committee on rules, said extending until Dec. 31, 2020 the validity of the maintenance and other operating expenses and capital outlay of the P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 was necessary to continue the infrastructure projects of the government.

“I thank my colleagues for the swift action on the twin joint resolutions. This is the best option to address the delayed implementation of programs and projects for the delivery of basic services,” Romualdez said.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, agreed with Romualdez, saying a “one-year extension is needed so the government need not go into costly crash programs just to meet the December 2019 deadline for implementation otherwise these vital funds will revert to the national coffers.”

“This would mean the catch up plan will have its impacts spread over one year and the deficit will lower in 2019 and slightly higher in 2020,” Salceda said.

Topics: Panfilo Lacson , Senate , Budget , Michael Defensor , Fredenil Castro , Joey Salceda , Philippine National Police
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